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Old 05-09-2017, 08:21 PM   #1
Balfrog
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The Hobbit Trolls - A Clever Parody?

Well eighty years have passed – and I haven't ever seen a decent explanation published on why Tolkien named The Hobbit trolls – 'Bill, Bert and Tom'. Ms. Seth has come up with a brand new idea and claims it was based on a parody of three Elizabethan playwrights: William Shakespeare, Robert Greene & Thomas Nashe - apparently reflecting a famous incident. There are certainly strengths to the proposition; but I'll let the reader decide whether her solution “fits like a glove”!

https://priyasethtolkienfan.wordpres...lorful-pair-4/
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Old 06-07-2017, 10:10 PM   #2
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The essay has been further updated to include much more evidence regarding the parody theory. In particular it discusses the role of the Elizabethan playwright Robert Greene and his ‘Coney-catching’ pamphlets, and how aspects of these became part of the troll scene with Bilbo. Also speculated upon is the reason behind why Tolkien much preferred to use ‘rabbit’ instead of ‘coney’ in The Hobbit, despite the fact that ‘rabbit’ is a later word in historical evolution terms.
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Old 06-08-2017, 07:52 AM   #3
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Interesting article- though I would say the sheer commonness of the names is a point against the theory. Also, might Tolkien have used "rabbit" in preference to "coney" in "The Hobbit" simply because the latter word is archaic enough to be potentially confusing for children?

Good catch on "Huggessen". And I agree that the treatment of troll section of "The Hobbit" seems to have much in common with English fairytales about ogres and giants - even though the trolls do show their traditional weakness of turning to stone in sunlight. (It should be remembered, however that supernatural beings in folklore are generally much less defined and codified than in literature and modern popular culture).

"Ogres" as such, though mentioned as figures in Hobbit folklore, seem not to actually exist in Middle-earth- perhaps they were too much of a fairytale element?
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